"_______ (insert name of opponent) is playing as good as anyone in the country. They never play us like they do everybody else. We're going to get their best shot. You can't look at comparative scores anymore. _______ (insert name of opposing player) is playing as good as anyone in the country right now. He scares us half to death. _____ (insert name of another opposing player) is playing as good as anyone in the country right now. He scares us half to death."
And so on.
Understandably, Brown allows absolutely no bulletin-board material from his troops -- especially in rivalry games. (Just once, though, you'd kinda like to hear him say, "Hell no, we're not scared of anyone. We are The University-of-by-God-Texas. We'll tee it up against any one, anywhere. Bring it on!" Or, as Darrell Royal calmly said of his disrespected Longhorns just before his first national championship game, "We're ready."
Anyhow, the latest team to scare us half to death is the 4-7 Texas A&M Aggies. The thing that scares me more than 80,000 swaying Aggies is a Texas program that has lost late in the season, four of the past five years, just when the team was on the cusp of greatness (a Big 12 title, a BCS bowl or even a Division title). Frankly, only Texas can beat Texas this Friday afternoon.
Even at Kyle Field, this is a game where Texas could duplicate last year's shellacking (50-20). Dennis Franchione is two recruiting classes away from seriously challenging the Horns. Right now, there is just too much disparity in talent between the two programs. This becomes a scarier game in 2005. Unless Texas significantly underachieves, this one should be a runaway and Aggies can take solace in that it should be another two decades before they suffer another season like 2003.
Texas, checking in this week at No. 8 nationally in rushing offense (227.2 ypg) should be able to run all over an Aggie defense ranked last in the Big 12 against the rush (209.8 ypg). QB Vince Young leads the nation with his 7.8 ypc while QB Chance Mock (the prediction here is the junior gets at least four offensive series) should be able to pick apart A&M's diminutive secondary. (All four starting DBs are listed at 5-10, making this one of the smallest secondaries Texas has faced all season. SE Roy Williams is licking his chops.)
A geeked-up Aggie football team, desperate for the upset win that would add salve to a stinging season, ought to keep it close until nearly halftime. Texas pulls away following intermission and, if trends hold, will benefit from at least one TD score from either its defense or special teams.
The Aggies are last in the Big 12 (No. 113 NCAA) in scoring defense, surrendering an average 38 ppg. I think the Horns can do that better that. Texas 41, Texas A&M 17.
Ross – For argument's sake, I'm searching for the scenario where the worst Aggie team in decades could beat this Texas squad Friday in College Station. And I'm searching, and searching, and searching… In other words, it's darn tough to envision a credible scenario that has A&M on top as the Kyle Field clock tickets to zero.
For the unthinkable to happen, the Oklahoma defenders would have to trade their crimson and cream jerseys for the Ag's maroon and white ones and line up across from the guys in the Orange and White. OK, since I'm quite confident Bob Stoops' boys will remain true to their Norman school, the real A&M defense would need its best performance of the season, creating four or more Texas turnovers, with at least a couple going back all the way for scores. The Aggie O (an oxymoron for much of the second half of the season) would need to channel its Oct. 11 performance and hope that the Longhorn defense does the same thing. (A&M scored 77 that day vs. Baylor while Texas gave up 65 to the Sooners.)
The much more likely scenario, though, is that both teams play as they have played since that second weekend in October. The Horns are a perfect 5-0 with but one scare while the Ags have scared up just one win vs. four huge losses (including a 38-10 smacking in College Station by Okie State). In those four losses, A&M scored a whoppin' 44 total points while surrendering a cool 208! Wrecked Crew indeed.
Texas will move the chains on the ground and through the air. With the Aggies likely to defense Vince Young as Tech did (whether they'll be as successful as the Raiders in that area is another story), Cedric Benson should break – no, he should blow by the 100-yard barrier vs. the Aggies for the first time in three tries on his way to his third straight 1,000-yard season (he is just six yards short). (As a freshman in '01 vs. the Ags, Benson rushed for 79 yards on 27 carries and as a sophomore in '02, the Midland native racked up 88 yards on 17 attempts.) Roy Williams should easily join Benson in the 1,000-yard club (he is just 31 yards short) with another monster A&M game. (Last fall in Austin, Roy grabbed six catches for 149 yards.)
Vince Young's high school mate Courtney Lewis, I'm afraid, will also have a solid game vs. the schizophrenic Texas defense, and that'll provide the Aggie QB, whether Reggie McNeal or Dustin Long, some opportunities to make plays through the air, but the firepower just isn't there for a banged up and beaten down A&M offense.
Like in '01, UT wins in College Station and then awaits its probable BCS bowl future. Texas 43, Texas A&M 24.